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From Where I Sit: Mother Nature’s mixup

What’s happened to Mother Nature’s timetable? She has her dates mixed up! The spring beauties, hepatica, and dwarf hyacinths are popping through dry leaves in the park; tulips and daffodils are bursting through the dirt in my garden. It’s too early: it’s April!

As Buddy, my intrepid Beagle, and I walked on soggy leaf paths through our woods this week, we were amazed at the all the blooming wildflowers. Bunnies scurried through the underbrush and cardinals flitted through the trees, their distinctive mating calls and brilliant red coats enticing lady birds to their side. My bird feeder is the hangout for robins, nuthatches, sparrows and cardinals.

Though I enjoy the sunny, warm weather, I fear that July will be an uncomfortable heat wave. If March has 80 degree days, what will the summer be like?

With Easter’s arrival, I always enjoy decorating the house with an Easter tree with tiny wooden bunnies and an Easter bunny basket sits on my dining table. A fluffy golden chick and fuzzy gray bunnies decorate the mantel. Buddy is intrigued with all the animals around the house, especially the small bunny pillows sleeping in his favorite chair by the window where he watches for squirrels. The spring sunshine and smells have enticed Buddy to spend most of the day outdoors chasing squirrels and bunnies, sniffing new smells around the maples and in the garden, and checking for predators in his private yard.

As always, the Easter parade will be on TV, and flowers at the holiday church services always remind me of Easter dresses and frilly bonnets. I’m reminded of that Easter dress I’ll never forget! When I was a little girl on Easter Sunday, other little girls wore frilly, brand-new party dresses in pink, yellow and blue to church services. Though I knew they were shivering in their lacey white socks and spring flower dresses, I looked wistfully at their patent leather Mary Jane shoes and Easter bonnets with flowers and ribbons. I was warm in my old winter jacket, wool pleated skirt and white blouse, truth be told, but I wished I could be dressed fancy like other girls. I was jealous.

Easter dresses were my yearly dream, but there wasn’t extra money for frivolities at my house. Mom spent a few pennies at the dime store downtown on yellow, chenille baby chicks to decorate our Easter dining table along with our dyed eggs. I never liked those hard boiled eggs we had to eat for Easter breakfast, but in my head I heard, “waste not; want not.” I suffered with each bite.

One year Aunt Sadie sewed dresses for my younger sister Barbie and me on her treadle Singer sewing machine. I felt so pretty in my Easter dress, an ice blue, puckered, nylon fabric with puffy short sleeves and a Peter Pan collar, with a big bow tied in back. Proudly, I wore a rhinestone locket with my sapphire birthstone, a gift from Elmer, my favorite prisoner at the jail. Posing Barbie and me on the front step of our house at the jail, Mom took several photos of us with her Brownie camera. I had a fresh haircut and Barbie’s straight hair was curled. We had holiday guests coming for ham dinner and scalloped potatoes after Easter church services.

A few years later, things were different. I’ll never forget going shopping with Mom for a “marked down” dress hanging forlornly on the rack at the back of a local department store. I was in junior high, waiting for my body to develop like the other girls. Why was I one of the last to develop, to get a garter belt, to have a boy look at me? That mauve dress with stitched down pleats on the bodice and a navy polka dot bow at the collar became my Easter dress that year. It was too big for me. Back then, my parents saved money, thinking we kids could “grow into those clothes”.

It’s funny how that dress sticks in my Easter memories. It wasn’t pretty in pastels with lace or ribbons; it was bland. But it was somewhat new. Maybe what remains is the uncomfortable feeling I had when I wore that dress: I didn’t feel pretty. That year I also wore my first pair of silky nylons with seams running crookedly up the back of my leg with stiff ballet flats.

One thing my parents didn’t skimp on was money for our good shoes. We had to have Buster Brown shoes so our arches would be supported; our feet wouldn’t develop corns or hammer toes. We went to Iverson’s Shoe Store in Alexandria where a cardboard, stand-up Buster Brown and his dog looked down at me with their big brown eyes.

When my own kids were little people, I dressed Andy in “hand-me-down” short pants with a matching jacket, shirt and knee socks. Saving money had been engrained in my mind. Kate wore an Easter dress I made on my Singer sewing machine. It was cute, with bunnies eating carrots appliqued on her white collar. A straw hat with ribbons tied around her chubby chin kept flipping off her head as she ran.

I remember Dave filming our kids and their cousins running through our yard looking for hidden Easter eggs. When Kate and Andy spied a blue egg, hidden under a tree covered in leaves, both rushed to grab it first. They collided! Noting that Andy had a few more yellow and green eggs than she, Kate dove for the blue egg, getting grass stains on her new dress. Andy wasn’t about to let big sister grab that egg without a tussle! He kicked, wrestling the egg from big sister’s scratching fingernails, only to have Kate smash his blonde head with her straw basket. It wasn’t a pretty sight. As Dave continued to film the riotous fray; I ran to break up the fighting twosome as the relatives laughed uproariously! It was an Easter to remember for years.

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